Boston Red Sox had a secret weapon for win: a Navajo Code Talker

Updated: October 25, 2004, 2:27 PM ET
Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE -- Could a blessing from a Navajo Code Talker trump the Curse of the Bambino in Red Sox lore during the World Series? Chester Nez sure hopes so.

The 83-year-old, one of 29 original Code Talkers who used their native Navajo language to develop a secret code for World War II American radio transmissions, has become a Beantown fan ever since he did a Navajo blessing for the Red Sox before their second home game of the season in April.

"(The Red Sox) told me they thought it was good that I was on their side," said Nez of Albuquerque.

With his medicine bag full of corn powder dangling from his left hand, Nez threw a right-handed strike down the middle as the ceremonial first pitch before the Red Sox played Toronto on April 10.

Nez stayed on the mound, faced east, took out some corn powder and said a blessing for the team.

"First, I did the blessing for all the spectators who were there," said Nez, one of only five living Code Talkers who received the Congressional Gold Medal from President Bush in 2001. "Then I said a blessing for the Red Sox to do well and keep winning their games from then on."

It was a retired Marine Corps major from Deming who brought Nez to Boston to tell his story to high school and Harvard University students. David Flores then told the team about Nez.

"Once I told them who he was, they invited him out to throw the first pitch and gave him first-class treatment," Flores said.

Several players spent some time with Nez after the game, including championship series MVP David Ortiz, Game 7 star Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller and Derek Lowe.

"Those guys asked me how I became a Code Talker, what I do everyday, where I was raised, stuff like that," he said. "I had a good time with those guys. They treated me real well."

Nez, who has a baseball with those five players' autographs on it, said he wasn't even a big Major League Baseball fan before his April blessing. But the Code Talker has since been pulling for his new friends, who, legend has it, were cursed in 1920 when they sold their star player Babe Ruth to the rival Yankees for $125,000.

After the Navajo blessing, the Red Sox won seven of their next nine games.

But when the team fell behind 3-0 to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series last week, Nez stepped outside his home, faced east, and said another Navajo blessing.

The four straight wins that followed represented the first time in Major League Baseball history that a team came back to win a seven-game series after being down 3-0.

"I think that they just might come through," Nez said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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